Divorce Advice and “To Do” List for Soon-to-be Separated Woman

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

Read the e-mail I received from a woman who is about to become separated. More than just divorce advice, I decided to give her a “To Do” list.

Hi Jackie, Today’s been a rough day–my husband just told me (after 14 years of
marriage) that he plans to leave me after he’s gotten his financial
situation under control.

We have not been in a good place for a few years now. He wants sex, I
think he’s a jerk to me and I’m not interested. We’re both at fault, but
today he made it clear that he doesn’t see us together much longer. I’m in
shock. Not that this happened, but that we’re actually going through with
it this time. I asked him to leave and he said he wouldn’t. I don’t have a
job, we are renting out our house because we can no longer afford the
mortgage and after living with his parents for a year (which turned out to
be the worst decision for us). Now, we’re living in a two-bedroom
apartment with our two young children and he’s done.

Here’s my question: he may lose his job in two months and I don’t have a
job, but I’m looking for one. I’m more likely to get a job than he. Would
I have to support him? He makes the worst financial decisions–he is very
likely to leave me and rack-up a ton of debt, because that’s what he likes
to do. I’m at a loss for the future of my family. My parents live across
the country and they would help us, but my husband would never let me go
with the kids.

 I need the support to have a good job again. He’s a
horrible husband that doesn’t show me love and compassion, but he’s a
terrific father. How do I do this to my kids who love their daddy so very
much? I could beg to stay together, and he will…I’ve done this several
times in the past. But I’m ready to let go this time. I feel like I would
be much happier without him. He is an overtly negative person and he says
horrible things to me. The last time we had a divorce talk, he told me
that he would celebrate his release by sleeping with several women.
I want to protect my kids and I against his poor decisions. I just don’t
know what to do or where to start.

Wow. This is a lot. You have some very serious problems right now. That said, they are all fixable! It will take time and lots of effort, and it won’t be easy, but you have health, healthy children, and you are young. Therefore, your problems are temporary—if you make the effort to manage them.

In order to help you get started, here is my “To Do” list for you:

  • Consult with a divorce attorney. You asked me if you get a job, would you have to pay child support to your ex. My answer is, I’m not a divorce attorney and have no authority to answer that question. So, you should have a consultation with an attorney and ask those kinds of questions, and all the other legal questions you probably have.
  • Start looking for a job. Now. Let’s say your husband ends up losing his job in two months, you get a job, and you have to start paying him some of your paycheck. Would that prevent you from getting a job? I hope not. Because honestly, without sugarcoating anything, you need money. Not to mention that getting a job might end up being the best thing that ever happened to you. In addition to the paycheck, you will meet lots of interesting people, and your self esteem will skyrocket. My lowest self-esteem in life was when I wasn’t working. Going back to work is scary, but I can honestly say I’ve never met a woman who went back to work and regretted it.
  • Make an effort to separate yourself from your soon-to-be ex financially. No offense, but based on your email, your husband sounds like a financial nightmare.So, I would separate myself from him as much as possible, meaning get your credit rating up, put things in your own name, get your name off of things that are jointly held. That of course will happen during the divorce process, but I would start looking into things now.

 4. Get tough. Things are really rough for you right now, I’m sure. Your email makes it seem like things are chaotic, and that you are living in a hostile environment with many unknowns. That’s why you have to be really strong right now. Try to let your husband’s remarks brush off of you like rain rolls off a raincoat. Think of it this way. You are both taking steps to be apart from each other, so once he moves out (or you do) you won’t have to hear those negative, insulting, hurtful comments anymore.

In closing, I will ask you a question. Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you are strong enough to be a working, single mother? I believe in you. I do. But, do YOU believe in you? I hope so. Because if you do, a more peaceful, happier life is waiting for you. When I reflect back on my divorce, the hardest part I remember was when I was still married. The single mom part, the being alone and lonely part, the going back to work part, even the divorce litigation part was a piece of cake compared to the time when we were still living together. I mean that!

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

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